LAST EDITED ON Nov-29-16 AT 11:34 PM (EST)|
Tuesday, July 20, 2410
New Yokosuka, Asgard
Beginning in the late twentieth century, persons interested in the ever-evolving cultural tapestry of the afterlife began to notice an interesting new trend. As soldiers from immediate pre- and post-Contact Earth began arriving in significant numbers, they found a creative off-label use for some of the qualities afforded them by their new status. Instead of fighting all day, every day, and feasting all night, every night, in the classical fashion, they took to exploiting their newly-acquired preternatural endurance by conducting massive marathon dance parties in the modern style. Epic raves.
Truth to tell, it wasn't that new an innovation. Students of the phenomenon were quick to point out to the disapproving that this was simply a new user interface applied to the ancient feasthall customs, and that such "redecorations" of the concept had occurred many times before. The only real difference, apart from the prevalence of surging electronic music and less brawling, hellraising atmosphere, was that the revelers generally didn't break off at daybreak to go and spend the day slaughtering each other. They'd just hang in and keep dancing and partying, sometimes for days or even weeks at a time.
The party at Club Yasen, one of the most popular spots in the New Yokosuka port district, had technically been running for seventeen years at this point, though no individual present at any given time had been there for more than a few days at a stretch. It was just that the club never closed, and though any given musician or DJ generally lingered for only an hour or two, there was always one up there, urging the crowd on.
The one currently on the stage was one of the club's crowd favorites, a performer whose energy and enthusiasm were renowned for intimidating even hardened partiers with their depth. She'd been known to play sets that went on for days, and indeed she was just finishing one now. Booked for a two-hour set starting at 8 o'clock on Saturday night, she'd just... stayed, laying down track after track, pausing only to slam down cans of Navy Special No. 5 and switch rapidly between a succession of costumes. She alternated between DJ sets and full-on original performances, always keeping it fresh, always with a huge smile, soaking up the crowd's attention and adulation without, somehow, ever quite coming across as narcissistic. She just seemed to enjoy being there, lighting up the joint and making people happy.
Right now she was finishing one of her live tracks. Despite being nominally tethered to her instruments, she managed to put across more than a little of the aidoru style in her performance, combining dance moves and hugely expressive body language with her keyboard playing and the duties of managing the various settings of her sophisticated equipment stack. In the last, at least, she was backed up of a small flotilla of the helper spirits popularly (if taxonomically inaccurately) called "fairies" around New Yokosuka: cute miniature personifications of various pieces of gear, each of whom managed a specific item. (Some of these fairies were so well-known in the club scene that they had followings of their own, such as the indomitable TR-808 Rhythm Composer Fairy, provider of unstoppable beats for dozens of Einheri artists.)
At the end of the song, the performer stood next to her board and caught her breath, grinning out at her cheering audience. She had been playing for almost 60 hours now, but though flecked with sweat, she seemed otherwise undimmed. Slim and athletic, currently sporting a tight-fitting tank top with the logo of her band on the front, a ruffled miniskirt over bike shorts, and chunky sneakers, she had her dark hair drawn up in a pair of dumpling-like buns apart from a couple of irrepressible sprigs that jutted up at the top like antennae. Dark eyes sparkled above her toothy, beaming smile.
"Thank you!" she cried, waving overhead with the hand not resting on her microphone. "Thank you all for coming out! I've got to go soon, but we've got just enough time for one more." With a deep bow to the crowd, she gestured to either side, taking in her phalanx of supporting fairies, and then declared, "Naka-chan loves you all! This is the 2-4-11 Projekt and we'll be back soon! Until then..." She winked, drawing a sideways V sign next to her open eye with one hand while the other started playing the opening riff of her last track. "You know what I'll be wondering!"
/* Owl City
"When Can I See You Again?"
Wreck-It Ralph (2012) */
If anyone in the room thought it was odd that a performer in an afterlife nightclub—by definition, full of people who were, technically speaking, dead—would have a signature closing tune built around the central message "life is way too short to take it slow," none was in any mood to remark on it. That was part and parcel of Naka-chan's style, after all: relentlessly upbeat, regarding even death itself as a grand adventure. Having been scrapped once before she was even launched, Naka—light cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy, third and last of the Sendai class—regarded everything else as so much bonus time.
Half an hour later, Naka emerged from the back entrance of Club Yasen, weary but exhilarated. She hadn't really intended to spend pretty much her entire long weekend playing one uninterrupted set, but once she got really into the groove, sometimes she just couldn't stop. Now she had a full day's duty ahead of her back at the New Yokosuka Naval Station.
As she walked down Bard Street toward the waterfront, though, she wasn't terribly worried about that. Partially, that was because it wasn't really in Naka's nature to be terribly worried about much of anything, but mostly, it was because she knew she could count on her not-very-secret weapon to come to her rescue. She'd just turned south onto Front Street, the waters of Asgard Bay lapping at the quayside to her left, when the orange glow of the eastern horizon reached its crescendo and the first brilliant beam of the rising sun swept across the water and touched her...
... and, as it did for every Einheri every morning, restored her instantly to full health and vigor. For millennia, the immortal warriors of Valhalla and Fólkvangr had received this daily gift, originally intended to raise once more those slain, and restore those maimed, in the previous day's battles. Its efficacy as a hangover cure and restorative for those who had partied hard all night had become apparent only somewhat later in the process.
Her smile broadening, Naka quickened her pace to a trot, then a run. Now re-energized, she was more eager than ever to discover the meaning of the cryptic text message she'd received from the Fleet Communications Center toward the end of her set:
All Kanmusu interested in Returning will report to Central Briefing n/l/t 0745 hrs.
"Rhythm of the Night" - an Order of the Rose Mini-Story/Teaser by Benjamin D. Hutchins
illustration by Philip Jeremy Moyer
special to the Eyrie Productions Discussion Forum
© 2016 Eyrie Productions, Unlimited